What to Wear Ice Fishing (21 Must Have Items)

Do you hear the call of the wild beckoning you towards the frozen lakes and rivers?

As someone who has been ice fishing numerous times, I understand the importance of wearing the right clothing.

Here is what to wear ice fishing:

When ice fishing, wear insulated parkas, thermal base layers, waterproof pants, thermal socks, and insulated boots. Do not forget gloves, headgear, hand warmers, and eye protection. Layer clothing, opt for bright or camouflaging colors, and carry a waterproof bag for gear.

Keep reading for a complete breakdown of 21 things to wear when ice fishing.

1. Insulated Parka

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Fisherman in warm gear with essential ice fishing equipment on snowy landscape -- What to Wear Ice Fishing
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Insulated Parkas are essential for ice fishing.

Designed to resist the chilliest of conditions, these jackets will keep your body warm even when stationary for long periods.

The insulation should provide sufficient warmth without being too bulky.

Men, women, and children all need insulated parkas specifically tailored to their sizes.

The outer layer of a parka should be wind and water-resistant to protect against harsh winds and potential water exposure.

Moreover, parkas with numerous pockets can be helpful for storing small fishing tools and accessories.

One of my favorites is the Spyder GTX.

2. Thermal Base Layers

A solid Thermal Base Layer is a must-have for ice fishing.

These layers are made from moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool or polyester blends, keeping you dry and warm.

Both men and women should wear thermal base layers that fit snugly but comfortably.

They should also opt for separate top and bottom base layers for maximum flexibility. Children’s base layers should be both warm and comfortable, and easy to take off if they get too warm while playing in the snow.

3. Insulated Waterproof Pants

Next up are Insulated Waterproof Pants.

Much like the insulated parka, these pants provide an outer layer that keeps your lower body safe from wind and moisture.

They’re essential for staying warm and dry while sitting on a bucket or sled for hours on end.

Ensure you choose insulated pants that offer a good balance of warmth and mobility. Styles and sizes vary for men, women, and children, but the key is comfort and insulation.

A good choice is the Gash Hao pants.

4. Thermal Socks

Thermal Socks are crucial for keeping your feet warm and dry in freezing conditions.

These socks are typically made of merino wool or a similar warm, moisture-wicking material.

They are designed to provide extra insulation to keep your feet warm in your boots. Men, women, and children should all wear thermal socks that fit well without restricting circulation.

You should also consider carrying a spare pair in case the initial one becomes damp.

5. Waterproof Insulated Boots

When it comes to footwear for ice fishing, Waterproof Insulated Boots are a must.

These boots are designed to keep your feet dry and warm, even in wet and freezing conditions.

For men, women, and children alike, the boots should be comfortable for long periods of wear and offer good grip for walking on icy surfaces.

They should also be easy to put on and take off, especially for children.

You don’t want to skimp on footwear, so you might want to try the Carhartt boots.

6. Fleece Mid-Layers

Underneath your parka, a Fleece Mid-Layer will provide an extra barrier of warmth.

These garments are usually made of polyester or other synthetic fibers that trap heat well.

Fleece mid-layers come in many sizes and styles. When selecting a fleece mid-layer, comfort, fit, and ease of movement are important factors to consider.

7. Ice Fishing Gloves

Cold hands can turn an enjoyable ice fishing trip into a misery.

That’s why good quality, insulated Ice Fishing Gloves are essential.

These gloves should have a waterproof outer layer, a warm inner layer, and preferably a grip-enhancing feature for handling your fishing equipment.

There are specific ice fishing gloves for men, women, and children, with sizes and designs to fit each.

It’s hard to beat the Glacier Gloves.

8. Neck Gaiter or Scarf

A Neck Gaiter or Scarf is necessary to keep your neck and face protected from the biting wind and cold.

Neck gaiters are often more versatile, as they can be pulled up over your mouth and nose if needed.

Choose one that’s made of warm, breathable material for both adults and children. Remember, comfort is just as important as warmth in this case.

9. Balaclava or Ski Mask

A Balaclava or Ski Mask is another crucial piece of your ice fishing wardrobe.

It provides full or partial face and head coverage, shielding you from the harsh cold and wind.

Balaclavas come in different sizes and materials.

For everyone—men, women, and children—it’s essential to find one that’s comfortable and made of a breathable material to avoid excessive sweating.

10. Insulated Hat

Even with a balaclava, an Insulated Hat is still necessary for added warmth.

This hat should cover your ears and have a thermal lining.

A good rule of thumb for everyone is that if your hat is warm, comfortable, and covers all necessary areas, you’re in good shape.

There are a lot of good hats but I like the Sealskinz extreme cold weather hat.

11. Hand Warmers

Hand Warmers are excellent small tools that can make a big difference on a cold day.

They provide instant heat when needed and are particularly useful when your hands start to freeze up.

Hand warmers are simple, lightweight, and a universal fit for men, women, and children. Having them in your pocket can turn a chilling experience into a comfortable one.

12. Sunglasses or Goggles

Ice reflects sunlight, and this glare can be harmful to your eyes.

That’s why Sunglasses or Goggles are an essential item on your ice fishing list.

Choose polarized lenses to reduce glare. They’re available in various sizes and styles for men, women, and children.

The most important thing is that they fit well and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

13. Insulated Seat Cushion

While not exactly a clothing item, an Insulated Seat Cushion can significantly increase your warmth and comfort during your ice fishing expedition.

The cushion provides a layer of insulation between you and the ice or your fishing bucket.

They come in various sizes, but the most important aspect is that it is waterproof and well-insulated.

These are suitable for everyone, regardless of age or size.

14. Layered Socks

In addition to thermal socks, a second pair of Layered Socks can provide extra warmth and cushioning.

This second pair should be larger and worn over the thermal socks.

Both men, women, and children can benefit from layered socks. Just ensure they don’t constrict circulation or make your boots too tight.

15. Long Underwear

Long Underwear, worn under your base layers, adds another level of insulation.

They should be warm and made from moisture-wicking material.

They come in sizes for men, women, and children, and the key factor is comfort and warmth without adding too much bulk.

16. Ice Cleats

Ice fishing often involves walking on slippery surfaces.

That’s where Ice Cleats come in handy. These devices attach to your boots and provide extra traction.

Cleats should be easy to put on and take off, and they should fit securely on your boots. They are available in various sizes suitable for men, women, and children.

My son and I have tried out a ton of ice cleats.

Check out the Kahtoola Microspikes.

17. Heated Insoles

Heated Insoles can be a game-changer, especially on very cold days.

These insoles are inserted into your boots and provide direct warmth to your feet.

Heated insoles come in different sizes and can usually be trimmed to fit any shoe size.

These are a great addition for everyone—men, women, and children.

18. Flotation Suit

A Flotation Suit is a specialty item for ice fishing that provides warmth and buoyancy.

This suit is particularly useful if you’ll be fishing on uncertain ice conditions as it can help keep you afloat in case of an accident.

Flotation suits come in sizes for men and women.

While these suits are not generally recommended for children due to their bulk, ensuring children have some form of flotation device is still important.

My current go-to floatation suit is the WindRider.

19. Vests or Sweaters

A Vest or Sweater can serve as an extra layer between your base layer and your parka.

They add warmth without significantly limiting movement.

Vests and sweaters are available in numerous sizes and materials, suitable for men, women, and children. Choosing one that’s comfortable, warm, and easy to put on and take off is crucial.

20. Wrist Gaiters

Wrist Gaiters seal the space between your gloves and jacket sleeves, keeping the cold air out and the warm air in.

These are particularly useful for those who move their hands a lot when fishing.

They’re usually one size fits all and are suitable for men, women, and children. They’re a small addition that can make a big difference in comfort.

21. Waterproof Bag

Lastly, while not a clothing item, a Waterproof Bag is crucial to store and protect your clothing and other gear.

This bag should be large enough to hold all your ice fishing gear but portable enough not to be a burden.

Waterproof bags come in all sizes and are suitable for everyone. Remember, keeping your gear dry is as important as keeping yourself dry while ice fishing.

You might also want a bag to keep your caught fish.

I like the Boffola Gear fish bag cooler.

How To Layer Clothes For Ice Fishing?

Layering clothes effectively for ice fishing involves three main layers:

  • A base layer that wicks away moisture
  • A mid-layer for insulation
  • An outer layer for protection against wind and water

Your base layer should be thermal, your mid-layer, like a fleece jacket, provides warmth, and your outer layer, such as a parka and waterproof pants, shields against the elements.

What Colors Are Best for Ice Fishing?

The color of your clothing can make a significant difference when ice fishing.

From safety to fish detection, here are the colors you should consider.

1. Bright Colors

Bright colors such as red, orange, or yellow are excellent choices for ice fishing outfits.

These colors can easily be spotted from a distance, which is important for safety, especially if an emergency arises.

Furthermore, if you’re ice fishing with a group, wearing bright colors can help keep everyone aware of each other’s positions on the ice.

2. White

White might seem counter-intuitive, but it can be a strategic color to wear if you’re trying to blend in with the snowy surroundings.

Fish can often detect unusual movement or colors through the ice, so wearing white might make you less noticeable to them.

However, keep safety in mind.

If you’re ice fishing in a well-trafficked area or near vehicle access points, brighter colors would be more appropriate for visibility.

3. Blue

Blue is another color that can be effective for the same reason as white—it blends in with the sky and water, potentially making you less noticeable to fish.

Just like with white, always consider your safety and the situation when deciding whether to wear blue or any other less-visible color.

4. Reflective Strips

Regardless of the main color of your outfit, having reflective strips on your clothing is a good idea.

These strips can catch the light and make you more visible. That is especially handy in situations with dim lighting, like at dawn or dusk, or during snowstorms.

5. Camouflage

Camouflage can be useful if you’re ice fishing in a tent or shelter and want to blend in with your surroundings.

Some ice anglers believe that being less noticeable to the fish can improve your chances of a good catch.

Again, safety should be your primary concern, so make sure you’re visible to others if you’re not alone on the ice.

Remember, while color can be a factor in your success and safety while ice fishing, it’s more important to dress warmly and comfortably.

Always prioritize your well-being over strategy.

Here is a good video about what to wear ice fishing:

YouTube Video by Fishin’ Utah – What To Wear Ice Fishing?

Final Thoughts: What To Wear Ice Fishing?

Ice fishing is a remarkable adventure that unites us with nature in its most serene and yet harsh conditions.

Your comfort, protection, and ultimately, the success of your fishing excursion hinge on your clothing choices. Remember, in nature, we don’t conquer the elements.

We learn to live with them.

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